Besides writing one of the most famous poems in American history, and writing many other poems and prose works, Emma Lazarus was also a translator and a Jewish activist. Born on July 22, 1849, in New York City, Lazarus wrote her first published poems and translations at age 14. She also wrote a novel and two plays.
Lazarus advocated on behalf of Jewish immigrants and helped found the Hebrew Technical Institute and the Society for the Improvement and Colonization of East European Jews. She donated her poem “The New Colossus” to an auction that raised funds to build the pedestal for The Statue of Liberty. It wasn’t until 1903, after Lazarus’s death, that the poem was added to the base of the statue.